July 8, 2009

New Flu Discovered At Pig Farm In Canada

Health authorities in Canada have reported cases of a new virus among hog farm workers in the province of Saskatchewan.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said the new virus is unrelated to the current H1N1 swine flu. It is comprised of genes from a seasonal human H1N1 flu strain and a virus known as triple reassortant H3N2, which is common among swine, according to Dr. Greg Douglas, Saskatchewan's chief veterinary officer.

"Preliminary results indicate the risk to public health is low and that Canadians who have been vaccinated against the regular, seasonal flu should have some immunity to this new flu strain," said Leona Aglukkaq, Canadian health minister.

"We are working closely with the province of Saskatchewan to learn as much as we can about this new flu virus," she said.

Additionally, PHAC said that the new virus should not pose any pandemic threat.

"There is no evidence that this new human strain of the virus is present in the swine herd," the agency said.

Furthermore, officials noted that viruses of this kind are not easily transmitted between humans.

The H1N1 virus has killed 170 in the US, 119 in Mexico, 60 in Argentina and 37 in Canada.

World Health Organization officials have been notified of the new virus found in Saskatchewan.

"As required under the WHO's International Health Regulations, Canada has notified the WHO about the detection of this novel influenza virus," said Dr David Butler Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer.

"The Government of Canada remains vigilant and we will continue to keep Canadians informed of any new developments."

"Our ongoing surveillance detected the new strain, and we will continue to aggressively monitor and test Saskatchewan residents in the affected area," said Moira McKinnon, Saskatchewan's medical health officer.

Dr. Frank Plummer, chief science adviser for the Public Health Agency of Canada, told Reuters that the farm in Saskatchewan is not under quarantine, but the farmer said he would not move the pigs.

"Any time there's a new influenza A strain, we have to be concerned about it, but these events occur and are almost always dead ends," said Plummer.


On the Net: